Cinco de Mayo: very large, very fun, very Denver
When nearly half a million people gather in Denver's Civic Center Park on May 9–10 for this year's Cinco de Mayo Festival, they'll be taking part in what has become the largest such fiesta in the United States — and one of the largest in the world.
History buffs might be happy to learn that May 5 commemorates the day in 1862 when the outnumbered Mexican army defeated invading French forces near the Mexican city of Puebla. Almost everyone will be happy just to join in this celebration of freedom and Latino culture.
There's a lot to celebrate and see: food, music, dancing, drink, art, crafts and much else. With more than 350 exhibitors and sponsors, no one is going to run out of things to do.
The event is free, and no tickets are required anywhere. You can go right up to any vendor and buy directly all the tamales and arroz con pollo that you want. Or lemonade, soda, beer and other more potent imbibables: the bartenders of the two Margarita gardens will be shaking up thousands of these classic cocktails.
Three stages will be thumping with live music — everything from mariachi and the tunes of traditional singers to Tejano-style pop. You can watch people dancing tango, salsa and cumbia — or join in the action, if you're feeling bold.
If you have kids in tow, you'll want to head over to the children's area. They'll like the petting zoo, the pony rides and the carnival games. At the Navy's exhibit, they'll probably be curious about the flight simulator and imagine themselves streaking in a jet through Denver's blue skies.
A festival highlight will be the Second Annual Green Chili Bowl Cook-Off. If you want to find out who puts out Denver's finest, come watch a panel of judges decide which of 15 restaurants deserves the Grand Prize. Or fire up your taste buds yourself and put in a vote in the People's Choice Award.
With lots of giveaways, free performances and very reasonable prices for most everything, you won't need much money to hang out here for most of the weekend. You will need a good pair of walking shoes, however, and enough energy to enjoy this very big, very boisterous festival.
Posted on April 21, 2009 by David Zindell